For the CSU Rams, Santa Claus is coming five days early this year. But instead of a fat man in a red suit handing out the gifts, it will be the third annual New Mexico Bowl.
Today, college football is more than just a game, it’s also a business. Part of that is the sponsorship, particularly by companies whose major demographic is 15-25 year olds and thanks to the marketing teams of select companies, players on Football Bowl Subdivision teams who reach the post season receive gift packages that differ by bowl game.
For reaching the New Mexico Bowl, each player on the CSU football team will receive the following: An RCA video camera, Oakley Holeshot Three-Hand watch, beanie and backpack, New Era hat, Ogio travel bag and a one-year subscription to ESPN The Magazine.
“Coming into a bowl game, you look forward to not only the game, but the gifts that come with it as well as a little time away from Colorado,” said junior wide receiver Dion Morton. “I haven’t heard what we’re getting yet, but a gift is a gift, I’m thankful for whatever I get.”
While the NCAA does enforce strict policies on student-athletes receiving gifts, they make an exception to the rule when it comes to bowl packages.
Junior cornerback Nick Oppenneer doesn’t mind the exception to the rule one bit.
“We don’t really ask any questions,” said the Littleton native. “If they give it to us and they say it’s legal then we’ll take anything.”
For the majority of the Rams this will be their first bowl trip, but many of the seniors took part in the 2005 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. There the Rams received an iPod Mini, $15 music gift certificate, Fossil watch and a shirt and hat commemorating the event.
One current senior who was on that team is four-year starter Jeff Horinek, who assured while the public may call these “free gifts,” they are anything but.
“First of all, their not free gifts whatsoever. I know everyone says that, and that’s fine, but we earned those with a lot of hard work.”
Sophomore linebacker Ricky Brewer added to Horniek’s statement that the gifts are not free.
“Jeff is correct, the gifts are earned, they’re never given to you for free,” said Brewer. “But I am really excited to see what we get.”
Football beat reporter Matt L. Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.